Some musicians like to drink, party and hang out with groupies while they're on tour. For LIGHTS, a spunky little 23-year-old Canadian who has played on Vans Warped Tour and with Owl City, playing World of Warcraft is the perfect way to unwind. And the electro pop singer hopes to combine her love for gaming with her love for music to one day create a form of game play where music is an even more integral part of the game than some of the current titles.
"I'm watching the record industry die and sales plummet," LIGHTS says. "You don't make money from CD's any more, but you look at the new Halo expansion which came out, and people are dropping $75 for it. I'm always thinking of ways to see (music and gaming) come together even more."
Her passion is so strong, she is currently taking online computer science courses while on her headlining tour, which comes to The Underground Wednesday, October 27. She says she's balancing her courses with performing by studying ahead of time, and it hasn't proven difficult because she's having fun learning.
"Because I'm into it, and I want to learn it, it's not a chore," LIGHTS says.
She must be great at time management, because this is LIGHTS' biggest headlining tour to date. It's been quite the ride for the singer-songwriter, who won a Juno in 2009 for Best New Artist. She legally changed her first name from Valerie to LIGHTS, in what she says felt like a natural next step for her.
"It's one of the biggest decisions I've ever made," she says. "It's worth it for the strangeness, I guess."
And besides already touring across the U.S., she was featured last season on MTV's The City, in a bit she said was edited "to make drama happen." Now she's trying to become more established in America, since there are so many more markets to play compared to her home country.
Since this is her largest tour, LIGHTS appropriately has lighting rigs on set for the first time, and she calls her set a journey because it's presented in three parts (with room for spontaneity, too.)
"I've broken down my songs into moods," LIGHTS says. "The beginning is more exciting, and the middle is more acoustic and broken down, and the last is the most epic."
Besides programming drums for the songs, LIGHTS plays keyboards, guitar and keytar on-stage. She is also performing some new songs, including her single "My Boots," which debuted yesterday. The track will be included on her upcoming LP, which she says isn't finished yet because she's going to write more for it this winter. It's the follow-up to her current album, The Listening, and she hopes to have it out this spring.
Like her work on The Listening, LIGHTS says she is mindful to stay true to herself in the writing process, though fans can expect growth on the new record, including hymn-like influences and more organic instruments.
"It's a little bit deeper," LIGHTS says. "My abilities as a musician and performer are getting better. When I wrote The Listening, I wrote only what I wanted to hear, and I have to keep it the same this time around. No matter what pressure there is from anybody, I'm going to ignore it, and the beauty of it is that I can."
Staying true to herself goes beyond her music. LIGHTS can still be found online playing WoW, and her fan guild has over 3,000 members.
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"It's a little bit overly addicting," LIGHTS says. "Sometimes I have to force myself not to."
The all-ages show starts at 6 p.m., and tickets are $12. For more information, see www.mesaundergound.com, and check out one of LIGHTS' acoustic performances below.